Archive for February, 2014

LEGO my nervous system

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Lego Movie

Am I the only one who got hyperventilated and got dizzy watching The Lego Movie? It was like a Pixar movie on  a Tilt-a-Whirl on methamphetamine. Which is actually an unfair comparison, because Pixar movies usually have a real heart instead of a fake one implanted at the last moment with that live action message moment. And Pixar’s stories usually unfold rather than being blasted at you like buckshot from a scattershot nuclear neon shotgun on ‘stun.’ The Lego Movie makes Toy Story look like a puppet show power point presentation.

Sure, I get the popularity of the movie. It’s like crack for kids with short attention spans. I don’t think there’s a scene that lasts more than three seconds before another chase with a thousand pieces of visual and aural stimulation bombard you incessantly into submission. I get the feeling the creators’ sensibility and inspiration was formed under ecstasy at a Rave with strobe lights flashing. The filmmakers don’t take any chances or trust that you won’t get restless unless there’s sight gags, random joke comments, recycled plot memes, first person roller coaster gyrations and explosions pummeling you every possible moment.

This film shouldn’t get three stars; it deserves six Red Bulls, because that’s what it was conceived, animated and produced on. I’m not exaggerating when I say I walked out of the theater with physical heart palpitations as if I had drunk the Red Bulls myself. That’s why the film itself is like an Adderall prescription for restless 3-10 years olds. No doubt they are pummeling their parents to take them to their nearest toy store RIGHT NOW to gobble up Lego kits they will take home to try and recreate the visceral thrill of the picture, that is… until they realize again Legos actually don’t animate themselves unless you ARE on drugs.

Okay, I’m a codger, a fuddy dud, an aging boomer. But it’s almost like our entire culture is now the movie Speed, where the bus will explode the moment it de-accelerates below 50 miles per hour.

i_love_lucy_chocolate_factory_scene_parodied_in_my_little_ponyBut what all these people drinking 5-Hour Energy drinks, Red Bull, Starbucks coffee infusions, Mountain Dew and jacking themselves up on high-intensity shooter games, and Lego movies don’t realize… is that there IS a price to be paid for pushing your adrenaline glands to the max 24/7. You WILL crash and burn out. Eventually. And sooner rather than later. It may be physical when you wipe out your adrenals, or mental when you fry your synapses, but you’re headed for a fall. Maybe we’re all headed for a fall. Think of your brain like Lucy Ricardo on  I Love Lucy trying to keep up with the chocolates coming down the conveyor belt, which keeps getting faster and faster until everything is all Fudged Up (no one gets that reference but boomers, but that’s okay).

One sign is to just look around next time you’re out and see people with the jittery legs. You know who I’m talking about. They’re sitting, but their leg is jittering like they are anxious to go somewhere, anywhere. Like the very act of trying to sit still is causing them to hyperventilate, or boil like water cooling the rods of a nuclear reactor. TMI see this EVERYWHERE now, and it’s obviously some manifestation of some real or manufactured pent up energy having a hard time being contained. I know people who would physically explode if they ever tried to harness or still their bodies and minds long enough to practice transcendental meditation.

I remember my psychic mother-in-law (yes, I had a licensed psychic mother-in-law) once told me that the human race was vibrating itself out of existence. Naturally, I put this observation into the category of many other wild predictions she made that seemed a bit far-fetched at the time.

Now… I’m not so sure. The idea that we can’t focus on any one task at a time; that we have to be stimulated constantly by multiple inputs at all times… is a pretty clear symptom of this phenomenon. No one can actually attend a concert, sit and just listen anymore. They have to sit, stand, listen, yell, sway, jazz hands, record with their iPhone, tweet to their friends, and save to their Facebook all at the same time. The idea of any experience being purely one thing anymore is passé. It’s not even allowed to be a real experience unless it’s somehow documented, recorded, relayed or re-copied or Instagramed ad infinitum and at the same moment.

Maybe this is the current evolution of the human race; to require so much multiple stimulation at one time to speed up the process of our internal coping mechanism and force that evolutionary leap to processing everything faster like the computers that serve us.

Or maybe we’ll discover sooner than we expect or are prepared for, that, unlike the lifeless microprocessors in our computers, the only thing you get when you speed up the processing of the living tissue, meat and blood we are ultimately made of… is hamburger.

Maybe that’s why zombies are so popular right now in the culture. It’s not because we fear them or the apocalypse; it’s because we envy them. They only have one thing on their minds at any time, all the time: your brains.

If you’re ten years old and you now set The Lego Movie as your necessary level of stimulation, then I will wave to you as you pass me by aging your nervous system at rate 100 times faster than any entertainment I ever grew up with. I may still be living in Mayberry, but you’re next stop in The Twilight Zone is Willoughby. (Google that while you read this, watch YouTube and listen to Imagine Dragons)

– A. Wayne Carter

 

I believe Woody Allen

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Wooden Allen directs Cate Blanchett in his latest film Blue Jasmine

I have zero loyalty to Woody Allen, either as a man, or as a comedian or a director. I rarely see his films anymore. If he were a scumbag pedophile, put me on the list to have him go to prison and rot in hell. But sometimes perversity is in the mind of the accuser, and I believe this is one of those times.

Less than a week after Woody Allen was celebrated at the Golden Globe awards with a typically daffy speech by Diane Keaton, an accusation that he sexually assaulted his seven year-old daughter when he was married to her mother, actress Mia Farrow, suddenly surfaced again. A remarkably vivid account by the daughter of the episode from 20 years ago appeared in the paper. Could this man really be a monster instead of a beloved comedian and director? Let’s check some of the details:

The alleged assault was investigated at the time of the accusation by the police and by prosecutors and no evidence or charges were ever brought forth. Allen may be a celebrity, but if there were any strong evidence beyond heresay that the event occurred, the New York tabloid press would eviscerated him beyond any favoritism or protection from the law.

The accusation occurred shortly after Allen had broken up with his wife and after his affair with her high school-age daughter. Yeah, that’s pretty icky. But the couple didn’t live together and it wasn’t his or her biological daughter. He can definitely pass the stink test as an old lech, but if you want to condemn middle-aged men for lusting after high school-age women or perhaps their children’s nannies, be prepared to throw a wide net. We’re all a bit Jack Nicholson when it comes to a Jennifer Lawrence (and yes, he did sort of hit on her). But there’s a huge difference between attraction to a fresh young woman and sexually assaulting a child. And Allen’s ‘attraction’ for the young woman went beyond infatuation to the point where he has been happily married to her for the past 20 years. If he was such a powerful and sick-minded predator, he could have easily sidestepped that commitment.

Okay, so you have a woman, an actress no less, who was not only emotionally attached to Allen, but also professionally – she appeared in several of his movies. She’s dumped in the worse possible way, and is consumed with a hatred, spite and anger beyond anything we can comprehend. Enough that she leaves an actual message for Allen warning him, “You took my daughter, so I’m going to take yours.” And that’s just what Allen (and I) believe she did. She took the only child that, as it turns out, was biologically his with her, and turned her against the father in the most vicious way possible – by planting the seed of an assault and feeding it for the past twenty years. There’s no question the girl now believes it. But where have we seen this before? How about the Salem Witch Trials? How about the McMartin Case in California?

I lived in Los Angeles when the story of the alleged child molesting McMartin day care providers rocked the media. The trial went on for months, lives were ruined, and, in the end, it was found out the workers were innocent. One young child was coached to provide damning testimony and got tons of attention, and the next thing you know, all these other children were solicited to provide testimony and, one by one, when they were asked, “And did such and such happen to you?” “Yes, it did,” they agreed, and they got tons of attention, too. Fortunately, no one was hung or burned at the stake before the stories were proven fancifully false.

But never mind all that, let’s just use some common sense. Almost every actress who has worked with Allen in the past twenty years has either been nominated for an Academy Award or won. How does this happen? How do they give the best performances of their lives for this director? And why do they trust him so much? Don’t they have any ounce of intuition if he were some kind of secret predator, monster or pedophile? Aren’t actresses supposed to be the MOST intuitive or empathetic because of their skills? Or is it because he just creates a unique protective environment for them to open up on screen? That takes a tremendous amount of trust. And loyalty. The major actresses all flock to appear in his movies, not just because they think they will get nominated, but because they know they will have a remarkable experience in an emotionally nurturing environment.

So imagine you’re an actress who will never have that opportunity again – either professionally OR emotionally? And you were married to the man for 10 years. And he fell in love and ran off with your adopted daughter? It’s like the hate, spite and anger trifecta. What could you possibly do to get back at him? And at a time when, once again, an actress – not you – is going to win an Academy Award for Best Actress for being in one of his pictures (Yes, Cate Blanchett is going to win for Blue Jasmine). Would you casually and spitefully reveal that his other supposed biological child is not his, but Frank Sinatra’s? Ouch, that’s got to burn. And would you help revive an old accusation that he assaulted his one biological daughter and with some new details that were magically never presented during the original accusation? Would that hurt him enough?

Would it hurt him more than the Valentine’s Card you once sent that actually had needles stuck into the faces of all your seven children, and a knife with your adopted daughter’s face stabbed into the heart?

Sometimes perversity IS in the mind of the accuser, and sometimes it’s enough to poison the mind of a child and spew more hate than anyone can imagine.

Woody Allen is no angel. He’s a neurotic, old man who made an indefensible lapse in judgment initiating an affair with the one young woman who his wife would see as the greatest betrayal. But he’s still with that other woman 20 years later and she still loves him. Sometimes love is blind and stupid and hideously unfair, but sometimes the heart wants what it wants.

And if another woman is incapable of ever reaching a point of forgiveness, if only for her own sake, she will just continue to stab and stab and stab at that heart.

 

– A. Wayne Carter